2023 Year in Pictures

Take a look back at some of the visual highlights of 2023 from the Columbia community. 

December 15, 2023

It was a fast-moving year here at Columbia and we've got the proof, with professional and amateur photographers alike capturing the zeitgeist of life at the University.

Take a visual journey with us over the past 12 months for a glimpse of the big and small moments that made Columbia this year.


Minouche Shafik searches for the owl in Alma Mater's robes.

On January 18, 2023, just after Minouche Shafik was announced as Columbia's incoming 20th president, she participated in a major University tradition: searching for Alma Mater's owl. After a successful search, Shafik met with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members across Columbia's campuses ahead of the official start of her term on July 1, 2023. 


Columbia Women's basketball holds championship trophy

History. Made. On March 4, 2023, Columbia's Women's Basketball team rallied from a dozen points down in the second half to win its first Ivy League championship (in overtime against Cornell) in the program's 37-year history. 


Wafaa El Sadr addresses crowd at centennial gala

At its centennial gala, Mailman School of Public Health celebrated a century of public health progress, highlighting the school's legacy of impact and affirming its leadership for the century to come. Wafaa El-Sadr (pictured above), University Professor, director of ICAP at Columbia, executive vice president for Columbia Global, and director of Columbia World Projects, was one of three public health luminaries honored at the gala. 


President Bollinger and Minouche Shafik embrace at Commencement.

On May 17, 2023, Columbians gathered to celebrate the conferral of degrees upon the esteemed Class of 2024. Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia's 19th president, marked his last Commencement and conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on then President-Designate Shafik. 


Columbia Space Initiative team holds a rocket to space.

In July, Columbia Space Initiative's Rocketry team was recognized for designing, building, and launching a hybrid rocket in less than 12 months (a first for Columbia!). Twenty members of the team traveled to New Mexico to represent Columbia at the Spaceport America Cup, the world's largest intercollegiate rocket competition. On the final launch day, they successfully launched the rocket and won third place in their category. They also received recognition for the avionics subteam's firing control user interface and the President's Choice award.


Student leaders jump off of the Sundial during NSOP.

From Convocation to move-in and family goodbyes, the start of the fall semester was deftly ushered in by our New Student Orientation Program (NSOP) leaders, who, quite literally, jumped for joy to welcome Columbia's first-year students to campus.


ary White and Matt Damon, co-founders of Water.org and WaterEquity, and Minouche Shafik at World Leaders Forum.

The storied World Leaders Forum returned this fall while the General Assembly met across town at the United Nations. Making the jaunt uptown, leaders from Paraguay, Romania, the Dominican Republic, and the European Parliament shared their insights with students, staff, and faculty at Columbia. Among the speakers this year was Academy Award winner Matt Damon, who is co-founder of Water.org and Water Equity alongside Gary White (pictured above). They joined President Shaifk in a wide-ranging conversation about sourcing capital for global challenges, including water poverty. 


Joachim Frank (2017), Louis Brus (2023), Martin Chalfie (2008)

Something to celebrate: After Professor Louis Brus won the 2024 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, he joined together in a toast on campus with two other Columbia Nobel laureates: Joachim Frank (left), who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017, and Martin Chalfie (right), who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008. 


Columbians celebrate the inauguration of Minouche Shafik

On Oct. 4, 2023, Minouche Shafik was officially inaugurated as the 20th president of the University in an outdoor ceremony in front of Low Library. The festivities continued through the day and into the night, with performances from student dance groups, a DJ dance party, and a spectacular light show in the center of Morningisde campus, where all came out to celebrate the start of this new chapter at the University. 


A chef and employees at the Taste of Harlem event.

This year, Columbia's Manhattanville campus was host to a variety of fun-filled neighborhood and community events including Taste of Harlem (pictured) in June. The fun continued throughout the year, including two Culture on the Corner showcases and two Manhattanville Community Day celebrations in May and October. 


A red and orange sunset over Morningside Height campus.

A magnificent Columbia sunrise, captured on camera by Danny Marquez, a staff member with the Double Discovery Center. As we close out 2023, we hope 2024 brings a beautiful, fresh new start to all. 

Enjoyed this photographic journey through the last year? Don't miss our roundup of the biggest research findings of 2023.